Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Morning Shootaround

A quick roundup of the action from the weekend. Western Kentucky knocked off Louisville 68-54 in the biggest upset of the year thus far. AJ Slaughter led the Hilltoppers with 27 points while Steffphon Pettigrew added 17 and 12 boards. The Louisville front court played well. It was the back court that struggled. Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith, Preston Knowles, and Andre McGee combined to go 1-17 from the floor for 5 points. The Cardinals just didn't show up to play. Not only were they missing shots, but they were out-rebounded 48-36 but a WKU team that played most of the game with no one taller than 6'5".

Sunday also featured the final round of the Old Spice and the 76 classics.

Old Spice Classic:

  • Gonzaga 83, Tennessee 74: The 'Zags really put it on Tennessee in the second half, using a 19-6 run to build up an 18 point lead. I was really impressed with Jeremy Pargo. The kid has always had talent, but he has never been all that great at running a team (it is why he isn't in the NBA right now - NBA scouts told him that they needed proof he could before they would use a first round pick on him). Pargo was poised all night handling Tennessee's pressure and always made the right decision. He finished with 10 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals, but it was his game management that was most impressive. Despite Tennessee's terrific press, Pargo only turned it over twice. He distributed the ball well, as five guys reached double figures. He didn't force anything, but when his team needed someone to make a play, he was the guy that stepped up and made one. Pargo sparked the deciding run by the 'Zags as he was responsible for Gonzaga scores on four straight possessions - he drove to the basket for an acrobatic lay-up, he penetrated and threw down a huge dunk, he made a steal and threw ahead to Steven Gray for a dunk, and then he penetrated and scored again.

    Gonzaga is very good this year. They have six guys that could go for 20 points on any given night, and four guys that are go-to players that can get you a big bucket when you need it. I mean, look at their starting line-up: Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, Austin Daye, Matt Bouldin, Micah Downs. There aren't many teams that can boast a better starting five.

    Tennessee looks better than I expected as well. I am becoming a big fan of Bobby Maze. He is a perfect fit for Tennessee's team this year. He isn't a great scorer, but he can penetrate and is very good at finding the open man when he does. He also doesn't make many poor decisions - he takes good shots and has just seven turnovers through six games. As far as the rest of their team, I think Tennessee is going to be unpredictable this year, meaning they will have some impressive wins but also some startling losses. They are a streaky team. When their press is working, they are forcing turnovers, and they can get out and run the floor (taking advantage of the incredible athletes they have) they are going to be very good. But when they get stuck playing a half court game, they are going to struggle. Tyler Smith and Maze are really the only guys that can create on their own right now (Scottie Hopson will at some point, but he isn't there yet), and there really aren't many shooters on their roster (seriously, if any coach in the country doesn't zone them, they should be fired on the spot). All that said, I still think that they are going to be the class of the SEC this year. They just have too many good athletes and too many good basketball players. They just all happen to be the same player (an athletic wing with a so-so jumpshot).
  • Georgetown 75, Maryland 48: The Terrapins win over Michigan State on Thursday is looking more and more like a fluke.
  • Michigan State 65, Wichita State 57: Michigan State needs to get Goran Suton back if they hope to upset the Tar Heels.
  • Oklahoma State 77, Siena 68: Both of these teams are better than their performances in Orlando will lead you to believe.
76 Classic:
  • Wake Forest 87, Baylor 74: This was not a pretty game. Both teams looked bad, especially in a sloppy first half. Wake's front court dominated this game. The Demon Deacons had three starters rack up double-doubles (Al-Farouq Aminu had 13 and 12, James Johnson had 14 and 14, and LD Williams posted 15 and 10) and they out-rebounded the Bears 57-32. I'm not really sure what to make of this game. Coming in, you knew Wake had a loaded front line and Baylor had a loaded back court. The Demon Deacons got a great performance from their front court, while Baylor's guards struggled - combined their top four guards were 14-53 from the floor. There won't be too many nights where all four are off. That said, I was very impressed with Wake Forest. James Johnson is going to be a great player. He's got the size to play inside, the quickness and ball skills to play the perimeter, and he is a fantastic athlete. I really like Al-Farouq Aminu as well. He reminds me a lot of Johnson, but a better athlete that is much less polished. Jeff Teague is a hell of a player, but I'm going to get into his game in a later post.
  • Arizona State 88, UTEP 58: James Harden had 40 and 8 boards. He looks like he did a lot of work over the summer on his game. His jump shot is better than ever (he was 6-7 from deep) and he threw down a couple big dunks
  • Cal St. Fullerton 92, Charlotte 84 OT
  • St. Mary's 81, Providence 75: The Gaels built up a 20 point first half lead and held on as Providence came back, eventually cutting the lead to 6. Patty Mills had 24, Diamon Simpson added 18, and Omar Samhan had 16 and 8 for St. Mary's while Jonathon Kale led Providence with 20 and 10.
Other scores of significance from Sunday:
  • Florida 86, UMKC 65: Alex Tyus led the way for the Gators with 25 and 8.
  • Notre Dame 93, Furman 61: Kyle McAlarney had 32 on 9-17 shooting from deep, but Luke Harangody didn't play (pneumonia).
  • Texas 77, Rice 56
  • Indiana 72, Cornell 57
  • Oregon State 62, Fresno State 54
  • UNC 116, UNC-Asheville 48: The Tar Heels won by 68 points. 68 points. That is insane.
  • Vanderbilt 71, VCU 66
From Saturday:
  • Ohio State 59, Samford 22: The score was 30-6 at halftime. Samford finished the game 9-48 from the floor and only had one guy make more than one field goal. The Buckeyes can play a little D this year. 
  • Wisconsin 67, Milwaukee 46: Trevon Hughes had 16 points, but only 1 assist. He only has 12 assists on the season.
  • Seton Hall 75, Delaware 70: The Pirates were down 45-34 early in the second half, but they went on a 18-4 run and never trailed after that. Jeremy Hazell led Seton Hall with 17.
  • UConn 88, Bryant 58
  • Michigan 66, Savannah State 64 OT: I can't figure Michigan out. They beat UCLA in the Garden, but then they fall behind an independent team only two seasons removed from a winless campaign by 20 at halftime. Michigan came back and DeShawn Sims hit a jumper from the corner at the buzzer to win it. Sims finished with 23 and 12.
  • Miami FL 79, Stetson 65
  • Xavier 60, Miami OH 53: A beat-up Xavier team got a career-high 23 points from Derrick Brown (who played on a sprained left ankle) as they over came a cold shooting night to beat a gritty RedHawk team. Terrell Holloway is out with a stress fracture in his foot, and Dante Jackson only played 9 minutes because of cramping.
  • Texas Tech 77, Mississippi State 73: Two NIT teams from major conferences played in the consolation of the Legends Classic. 
  • Texas A&M 77, Kent State 71
  • UCLA 89, Florida International 54
  • Pitt 57, Washington State 43: Pitt improves to 7-0 with an impressive win over a tough, well-coached Cougar team. Sam Young led the Panthers with 15 and 8 boards.
  • Iowa 65, Kansas State 63: K-State was down by as much as 13 in the second half, but a Jamar Samuels lay-up with 7 seconds left tied it. But Cyrus Tate hit a lay-up at the other end as time expired to win it.
  • Dayton 89, Marquette 75: The Flyers beat Marquette at their own game, going up and down the floor with the Golden Eagles. Rob Lowery scored a career-high 21 off the bench, but the story of this game was Marquette's inability to handle Dayton inside (and Dayton isn't even that big) - Chris Wright had 13 and 13 and Chris Johnson had 12 and 11. Marquette got 28 from Wesley Matthews (who has been fantastic this year) and 19 from Dominic James, but they are going to have problems through out the year in the Big East because of their lack of an inside presence.
  • Cincinnati 67, UNLV 65
  • Villanova 78, Rhode Island 65
  • Florida State 80, Cal 77: Toney Douglas had 28 for the 'Noles, who are now 7-0. Jerome Randle led the Bears with 26 points, including 15 in the final minute.
  • Kentucky 54, West Virginia 43: The Wildcats outscored the Mountaineers 38-17 in the second half to win the Las Vegas Invitational. Jodie Meeks had 19 points in the win, following up a 37 point performance in the first round. Meeks is averaging 25.5 ppg on the season, but he still forcing shots and turning the ball over too much (he is averaging 5.1 turnovers and 1.5 assists - that's a .3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio). I think part of that is due to Kentucky's poor point guard play, which forces Meeks into the playmaker role too often. But regardless, that is way too many turnovers. 

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